August 29, 2009

Swiss bank accounts : India Need to do more to get the money back

by Arun Kumar

Switzerland has reportedly told the Indian authorities that it would not give them names of the Indians holding secret bank accounts in its banks while its largest bank, UBS, has agreed to give the US government names of about 4,500 US citizens who have accounts there. This is in addition to the 250 names it agreed to give in February 2009.

Switzerland is one of the possibly 77 tax havens in the world where rich individuals (from all over the world) keep their money from the prying eyes of their governments. The money kept can be from illegal activities (like drug trafficking and corruption) or from legal activities to evade taxes. Though tax evasion itself is an illegality but this is not considered a criminality. Switzerland considers tax evasion to be a minor matter and can prosecute employees of any bank giving information about individuals indulging in tax evasion.

Money from criminal activities may be routed to these accounts via shell companies or dummy companies — money laundering. Money is transferred from one account to the other and the previous account is closed and so on so that it becomes difficult to trace where the money originated from. Such activity is facilitated by bankers themselves, by legal firms and chartered accountants operating in tax havens. To make the task of tracing the origin of the money more difficult, money is sent from one shell company in one tax haven to another in a different country (as in the case of Bofors). Major banks facilitate such activities apparently by maintaining hundreds of companies in tax havens. Given this complexity and difficulty in tracing individuals who are evading taxes, how did the US succeed in extracting a concession from the UBS bank of Switzerland?

The short answer is hard work by the IRS (the US government tax department) and the clout enjoyed by the US in world affairs. The story begins in mid-2008 with the indictment of Mr. Bradely Birkenfeld. He was a private banker acting on behalf of Swiss banks. He accepted that he was servicing clients of these banks in the US. This was illegal for a variety of reasons, including encouraging the clients to violate US tax laws.

In the year 2000, the IRS established the Qualified Intermediary (Q.I.) programme, which required foreign banks to get US entities who were their clients to file various forms to show their incomes. To overcome the consequent difficulty, the Swiss banks found ways of hiding the identity of the true owners of accounts with them through shell companies in other tax havens. Mr. Birkenfeld, according to the court papers, helped in facilitating all this, moving assets (like bringing diamonds in a toothpaste tube), issue of credit cards for facilitating the use of funds, showing money transferred to clients as loans by Swiss banks and so on. He accepted helping a real estate developer evade $7.2 million in tax and hiding assets worth $200 million. Mr Birkenfeld was apparently one of the many private bankers used by the Swiss and others to get business from wealthy US clients.

Since the UBS name cropped up, the US government next charged a top UBS executive with helping 20,000 US individuals hide $20 billion from the US government. As the case progressed, the entire UBS bank was threatened with indictment. To stave off prosecution, UBS in February 2009 agreed to pay the US government $780 million and reveal the names of 200 to 300 US citizens holding secret accounts.

The US government next filed a case to get the names of an estimated 52,000 wealthy individuals who have accounts in UBS. The Swiss tried every trick in the trade to stall, like, saying this would lead to a diplomatic row or it would threaten the stability of the financial system in the world and so on. The US judge went to the extent of asking the US government whether it was willing to seize the assets of UBS and put them under another management. The bank argued that revealing the names would be violative of Swiss criminal law.

The US government announced a voluntary disclosure scheme, which allowed people with illegal accounts abroad to come clean by paying their taxes due and accepting light penalty. However, the judge did not consider this adequate and maintained pressure on UBS. Given UBS's large operations in the US and the revelations being made by those using voluntary disclosure, it had to give in. An agreement was signed last week to give the US government between 4 and 5,000 names. The details are not fully available but perhaps the biggest tax evaders who most likely have operations in many tax havens have already shifted funds out of not just UBS but also out of Switzerland (there have been reports to this affect).

Liechtenstein, another tax haven, has come to an agreement to clean up its act. In 2007 a disgruntled banker revealed the names of those having accounts there. Governments have started prosecutions based on the data made available. The Indian government, which was initially reluctant to take the data being made available to it by the German government, finally accepted it in March 2009 (under public pressure) and apparently preliminary investigations have started.

In the US, as more and more data is coming to light, prosecution is accelerating. On the basis of revelations, Mr Schumacher and Mr Rickenbach were indicted on August 20, 2009, in Florida on grounds of helping US entities to hide assets and evade taxes. Jeffrey Chernick, John McCarthy and individuals referred to as J.E. and E.D. are mentioned in the indictment as those receiving "help" from these gentlemen. The pace of prosecution is likely to increase as more data becomes available through voluntary disclosure and revelation of names by Swiss banks.

In India's case, when some information is received, it is suppressed or the investigating agencies spoil the case so that prosecution is rare. From time to time, information does become available, like in the case of Jain havala or Bofors but this has never been systematically pursued or the case has been weakened. In India, the rich and the powerful have the clout to prevent justice from being done. In advanced countries this seems to be far less.

A perusal of the revelations in the US show that banks with operations in tax havens or originating in tax havens are indulging in all kinds of fraud in other countries. In India (given our laxity) they would be doing at least as much as has been revealed in the US. Given this, the least the Indian government should do is to tighten control over such banks operating here. Further, all foreign banks should be made to give undertakings along the lines of Q.I programme. They must also be asked to give information about their subsidiaries and operations in tax havens so that their operations become transparent.

While the black economy in the US may be larger in absolute terms, as a percentage of its GDP, it is small (5 per cent) compared to that in India (about 50 per cent). Thus, India is losing far more due to the adverse impact of the black economy. Further, the US receives funds from all over the world, given its lucrativeness, but India loses capital. So, a country that is short of capital has been exporting capital to the tax havens and rich countries. Every time there is demand to unearth the funds lying abroad there is a chorus, obviously orchestrated by the wealthy, that this would be futile. So, while we need to do more to tackle the menace, we do far less than we can or what the other countries are doing.
Indian interests in regional security

M.K. Bhadrakumar

In the coming months, as the U.S.´ political engagement of the Taliban gains traction, Washington will surely expect New Delhi to keep the Indian profile in Kabul below the parapet. All the above confronts India with a regional security paradigm with contradictory tendencies. Clearly, there is need to keep the lines of communication open with Pakistan - call it `dialogue´ or `exchanges´ or `consultations´ - no matter what our machos noisily demand. A saving grace is that, in retrospect, New Delhi rejected any Indian military deployment in Afghanistan, though sections of our strategic community rooted for some adventure in the Hindu Kush.

India cannot remain impervious to the threat of spread of challenges from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries.

President Pratibha Patil´s visit to Tajikistan on September 2 provides a rare backdrop to pin our thoughts on India´s approach to regional security issues in South and Central Asia. The region is caught in the vortex of security challenges and threats that may appear episodic but are formative. The biggest threat to regional stability originates from Afghanistan in the activities of radical extremists and drug traffickers.

Islamic radicalism and its manifestations of separatism and extremism justifying terrorist methods of conflict add to the potential for instability in Central Asia. At the same time, a high level of strategic uncertainty has also appeared in the region, stemming, paradoxically, from big power rivalries, given the significant increase in its importance as a major source of petroleum resources and as an alternative to the volatile Middle East and Caspian regions.

Slowly but surely, the "outside" actors - principally Russia, the United States, China - are consolidating or increasing their presence in the region through complex modes of relationships that promote cooperation as well as trigger competition. A kind of polarisation of relations between Russia, on the one side, and the U.S., on the other, has been accelerating in the region. The strategic rivalry is compounded by the worsening security in Afghanistan. As militant Islamists infiltrate from across the Afghan border into Tajikistan, regional stability is coming under severe challenge. The result is a state of "strategic uncertainty" as a medium-term prospect.

Certainly, India will be averse to being the promoter or participant in a competing effort. However, it cannot but be affected by the outcome of the ongoing struggle for spheres of influence between the "pro-Russian" and "pro-American" vectors or among contending projects - Russia´s "Eurasia Space" project, America´s "Greater Middle East Initiative," China´s "Assimilation" project, and the EU´s "Integration" project - and last but not least the potential entanglement of the region in the "World Islamic Caliphate" project. Again, regional security in Central Asia is currently multilevel and unstructured and often contradictory, which compels India to avoid military-political cooperation. Having said that, India, as an affected party, cannot remain impervious to the permanent threat of the spread of challenges from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries. The diplomatic challenge is that India is called upon to promote

regional stability and bolster its anti-terrorist efforts without resorting to military-political modes of cooperation. The predicament is similar to China´s.
A redeeming feature of the Central Asian situation is that it is highly unlikely that any of the international players involved in regional projects will undermine the region´s stability, which is already quite fragile. From the Indian perspective, Washington´s continued focus on the "Greater Middle East Initiative" is of some particular interest. The U.S. thrust is on drawing the countries of the region into its sphere of influence as an "area of responsibility," including Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan that constitute "areas of instability." No doubt, the directions of the U.S. strategy to solve the Afghanistan-Pakistan problem directly impact on Indian interests.

The President´s visit to Tajikistan will come at a critical juncture when the effect of the Pakistan factor is simultaneously appearing on several templates. Unfortunately, the Indian discourses on the 8-year old Afghan war narrowly focussed on the "war on terror" and remained indifferent to the hidden American agenda of the war. The hidden agenda is the core agenda, which devolves upon the unfinished business of the Cold War and the U.S.´ global dominance in the 21st century.
We almost lost sight of a profound pre-9/11 background to the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. The U.S. intended to recognise the Taliban regime in Kabul in 1996. Senior Taliban officials were welcomed in the U.S. Big Oil financed the Taliban. The U.S. encouraged the Central Asian states to work with the Taliban. Key U.S. allies - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - generously helped the Taliban and accorded it diplomatic recognition. A major NATO ally, Turkey, kept up official consultations with the Taliban regime right till 2001. Indeed, the then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Robin Raphel (who is reportedly being inducted into Richard Holbrooke´s team), used to enjoy privileged access to the Taliban leadership in Kandahar, and actively campaigned for the Taliban´s unique credentials as an indigenous force capable of stabilising Afghanistan, which posed no real threat to regional security.

The U.S. intent to strategically dominate the Central Asian region predates the military intervention in 2001. In sum, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has arrived for an open-ended stay in our region within the framework of the U.S. strategy to make it a global political organisation. How India´s interests will mesh with this geopolitical reality needs to be weighed. Especially so, as the U.S. is encouraging the build-up of Pakistan´s partnership ties with the NATO on a medium-term basis that goes beyond the call of the Afghan war.

Second, Islamism will remain a principal instrument of geo-strategy for the U.S. towards Central Asia, North Caucasus and Xinjiang. The rehabilitation of the Taliban in Afghan mainstream politics is on the cards - even without its formal "disarming." India needs to factor in what the ascendance of political Islam in the region will entail for its security. Equally, there should be clarity of thinking to differentiate between shades of Islamism. The imperative of seriously engaging Russia, China, Iran and the Central Asian states on issues of regional security as powers affected by extremism emanating from the AfPak belt cannot but be stressed.
Ms Patil´s visit to Dushanbe takes place at a profound juncture when several tendencies are converging. No doubt, the U.S. hopes to manipulate in the coming weeks the creation of a power equation in Kabul, which is completely amenable to Washington´s agenda of reconciliation with the Taliban. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband underscored in his recent speech at the NATO headquarters that the U.S. and Britain are increasingly open-minded on reconciling with the Taliban. However, the Taliban´s regional acceptability still remains a hurdle. There has to be a broad regional acceptability. Washington can count on Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to acquiesce in the process, apart from Pakistan, which roots for the Taliban´s reconciliation. Uzbekistan is a key player in the Amu Darya region - no less than Pakistan in the Pashtun heartland. An axis with Tashkent in northern Afghanistan and with Islamabad in southern and eastern Afghanistan will be
what the U.S. needs as it addresses the Taliban´s reconciliation and return to mainstream political life in Afghanistan.

However, the U.S. is yet to strike the mother of all "grand bargains" critical to establish the Taliban´s regional acceptability - engaging Iran. Iran is a game changer on the Afghan chessboard - and potentially for Central Asian security. Tehran may be willing to work with the U.S. on the stabilisation of Afghanistan provided Washington makes a comprehensive engagement of Iran as a regional power.
India faces a strange regional security paradigm. On the one hand, anticipating the nearing endgame in the Afghan war and the inevitable shift in the regional alignments that may ensue as the U.S. presses ahead with its strategy towards Central Asia, Pakistan has done some smart geopolitical positioning. It can today take advantage of: a virtual U.S. guarantee against any "coercive diplomacy" on India´s part; burgeoning ties with the NATO; active regional diplomacy vis-À-vis Iran, Russia and the Central Asian states; and an "all-weather friendship" with China. Ironically, Pakistan has become a key interlocutor for regional countries today precisely due to its influence over radical Islamist groups. The "frontline" Central Asian states, Russia and Iran are under compulsion to seek out Pakistan not so much as the "epicentre of terrorism" but as an interlocutor in seeking a practical solution to the issues affecting their nationalsecurity. They have formed bilateral and regional formats for engaging Pakistan on this front - including Russia. Meanwhile, Pakistan will remain an irreplaceable ally for the U.S. in the effective pursuit of its Central Asia strategy and the U.S. is under compulsion to strengthen Pakistani military capability. However, Pakistan continues to take a differentiated approach towards militant groups that threaten India´s security but does not confront the U.S. interests directly. There are limits beyond which the U.S. will not press India´s case in Islamabad.

In the coming months, as the U.S.´ political engagement of the Taliban gains traction, Washington will surely expect New Delhi to keep the Indian profile in Kabul below the parapet. All the above confronts India with a regional security paradigm with contradictory tendencies. Clearly, there is need to keep the lines of communication open with Pakistan - call it `dialogue´ or `exchanges´ or `consultations´ - no matter what our machos noisily demand. A saving grace is that, in retrospect, New Delhi rejected any Indian military deployment in Afghanistan, though sections of our strategic community rooted for some adventure in the Hindu Kush.

(The writer is a former diplomat.)

China's tale of two restive regions

By Kent Ewing

HONG KONG - Why is it that, as cocktail glasses clink and urbane voices clatter across the Western world, China's repressive policies in Tibet are generally regarded with outrage while the plight of Muslim Uyghurs in the restive Xinjiang region rarely rates a mention?

No one hung a "Free Xinjiang" banner from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge ahead of last year's Summer Olympic Games, hosted by Beijing, while "Free Tibet" protesters turned the iconic landmark into a billboard for their cause. And now that the central government of China has put Xinjiang under lockdown in the wake of last month's riots in its capital, Urumqi, Western protests have been virtually all but non-existent.

The only Western country to raise a real fuss about Xinjiang - Australia - isn't even located in the West. But Canberra's row with Beijing, now subsiding as both sides realize how much they need each other, was over whether a biopic on exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer should be shown at the Melbourne International Film Festival, held July 24 to August 9; it only tangentially concerned the crackdown in Xinjiang.

Indeed, Kadeer, the 63-year-old chairperson of the World Uyghur Congress, has become accustomed to such low-level publicity that, tongue in cheek, she thanked the Chinese government for the free advertising provided by its heavy-handed attempt to block her visit to Australia for the showing of the film, The 10 Conditions of Love. (See Xinjiang crisis creates ripples abroad, Asia Times Online, July 30.)

Speaking in Uyghur through a translator to Australia's National Press Club, she said, "I deeply appreciate the support of the Chinese government in raising my profile. I could not have spent millions of dollars in getting this sort of publicity, but thanks to the Chinese government for raising my profile and informing Australians of the plight of the Uyghurs."

It's true. After several Chinese filmmakers withdrew from the festival in protest over the Kadeer documentary and China's Foreign Ministry went into high dudgeon over Canberra's refusal to ban her visit, Kadeer was showered with attention and sympathy in Australia.

Meanwhile, the China Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's official English-language mouthpiece, accused "Sino-phobic politicians" in Australia of striking up an "anti-China chorus" over the Kadeer visit. Australia's ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, then returned home last week for "consultations", although Canberra denied any connection with the diplomatic wrangle over Kadeer.

With relations between the two countries already sour over Beijing's recent detention on charges of espionage of an Australian executive working for the multinational Rio Tinto mining and resources group, the Kadeer flap only exacerbated the rising ire.

Realizing that trade between China and Australia added up to US$53 billion last year, however, both sides cooled their rhetoric, took a step back and vowed to get along despite their differences. In fact, while Raby retreated to Canberra last week, the two nations added substantially to that trade, announcing a 20-year, $41 billion deal for China to buy natural gas from the Gorgon gas field off Australia's northwest coast. (See Australia approves gas megaproject

Ultimately, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a fluent Putonghua (Mandarin) speaker, offered this diplomatic bromide, "The China-Australia relationship is always full of challenges, and it always has been thus and it will be thus for a long time to come. We approach this relationship mindful of our interests in China, mindful of Chinese interests in Australia."

For anyone paying attention, this was a weeks-long diplomatic drama with telling implications, but it caused only minor ripples in the Western media.

Now imagine that the Dalai Lama, the long-exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and adopted darling of the West, had stood at the center of this controversy. While China's policies in Tibet and Xinjiang are remarkably similar, there is no doubt that the chorus of disapproval for Beijing would have resounded internationally, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy perhaps once again leading the rallying cry, if the biopic shown in Melbourne had featured the Dalai Lama.

Why the difference? Why would American talk-show hosts like Larry King bow, scrape and grovel for an interview with the Dalai Lama but not give Kadeer the time of day? The answers to these questions take us straight to the heart of Western, particularly American, prejudice and hypocrisy.

Xinjiang and Tibet are vast, contiguous western regions rich in natural resources that China needs to fuel its continuing economic boom. Xinjiang has substantial mineral and oil deposits, and Chinese geologists have discovered major new deposits of copper, iron, lead, zinc and other minerals in Tibet, which also has tremendous potential for tourism if only Tibetans would stop their demonstrations against Chinese rule.

Beijing has made a huge effort to modernize the two autonomous regions, pumping billions of yuan into new infrastructure, education and industry. It has also encouraged legions of Han Chinese to migrate to Urumqi and the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to lead the charge toward modernization.

While this tremendous push into modernity has substantially improved the standard of living in both regions, it has not won over the loyalty of the people, many of whom believe the central government is trying to "Sinicize" their culture.

For Tibetans, that culture is steeped in Buddhism and, for many, the Dalai Lama is the living, internationally recognized symbol of their faith and traditions.

The Western romance with the Dalai Lama goes back to the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule that led to his flight to Dharamsala, India, where he established a government in exile. The US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA's) alleged backing of that revolt, its assistance in the then 23-year-old spiritual leader's escape from the Chinese army and its subsequent support of his cause - all still points of debate in the West - are accepted facts life in China and much of the rest of Asia.

Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama were once seen as important pieces in the chess game of the Cold War. Even now, with the stress on cooperation rather than antagonism in US-Sino relations, that legacy continues. Moreover, the Dalai Lama's pleas for religious freedom and cultural integrity in Tibet continue to resonate among ordinary people in the West.

In 1989, he won the ultimate Western accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize, and his popularity - especially among Hollywood stars such as Richard Gere and Harrison Ford - continues.

The same cannot be said for Kadeer and the Uyghurs of Xinjiang. Although their complaints against the central government of China are strikingly similar to those of Tibetans, their different history and religion have elicited far less sympathy and none of the crazy passion evinced by pro-Tibet demonstrators who dogged the Olympic torch relay last year.

The Uyghurs are a Turkic people with a long and rich history in Eastern and Central Asia and a culture rooted in Islam. Instead of the CIA in their corner during the Cold War, it was the former Soviet Union.

Now, ironically, there are allegations of CIA support for Kadeer, who since 2005 has lived in the US, and of CIA sponsorship of unrest in Xinjiang. Those charges notwithstanding, the anti-Muslim, post-September 11, 2001, environment in America - buttressed by Cold War history - has elicited little sympathy for Kadeer and her cause in the US or anywhere else in the West.

China, which denounces the Uyghur leader as a "terrorist", has its own reasons, also rooted in history, for forcibly imposing unity and stability on these two troublesome regions.

At least Beijing has been consistent. As China's influence grows, the West is increasingly choosy about its darlings and causes.

Kent Ewing is a Hong Kong-based teacher and writer. He can be reached at

August 28, 2009


Among the major development projects in Pakistan in which the Chinese have been involved till now are the construction of an international commercial port cum naval base in Gwadar on the Makran coast in Balochistan, the development of the Saindak copper-cum-gold mines in Balochistan, the upgradation of the Karakoram Highway connecting the Xinjiang province of China with Pakistan via the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), the construction of a small-scale hydel project in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the development of a mobile telephone network in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

2. The commercial port in Gwadar has already been completed and commissioned, but it has not been attracting many foreign sea-going vessels due to the poor security situation in Balochistan because of the increasing activities of Baloch nationalists demanding an independent Balochistan. The construction of a naval base in Gwadar, which could also be used by Chinese naval ships visiting the Gulf, has also slowed down due to the poor security situation in the area.

3. The Pakistanis, since the days of Gen.Pervez Musharraf, have repeatedly sought Chinese assistance for the construction of a petro-chemical complex at Gwadar and oil and gas pipelines and a railway line connecting Gwadar with the Xinjiang province. The Chinese have till now not shown much enthusiasm for additional involvement in Balochistan because of the security situation. Since 2002, there have been at least three attacks on Chinese engineers working in Balochistan. In two of these, Uighurs were suspected and in one in 2007, which took place after the Pakistani Army raid in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007, the Pakistani Taliban was suspected. While there were Chinese fatalities in the first two attacks, there were no Chinese fatalities in the third attack of 2007, in which many passers-by were killed. All these incidents involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IED).

4.The authorities of Pakistan and Iran have been claiming that the Chinese have been showing interest in the extension of the proposed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to Xinjiang. Presently, the proposal for the pipeline envisages the involvement of Iran, Pakistan and India----with India participating only as the purchaser of the gas and not as a contributor of funds for the construction of the pipeline. Since 2005, Indian enthusiasm for the project has declined due to the security situatiion in Balochistan through which the pipeline has to pass and the US opposition to it.Pakistani and Iranian authorities have been repeatedly hinting since last year that if India withdrew, China might be prepared to step in as a purchaser of the gas as well as a contributor of funds for the construction. There has been no indication from the Chinese side on their reported interest in the project.

5.Chinese interest in participation in projects in the Pashtun belt has also declined following two incidents of kidnapping by the Pakistani Taliban of Chinese engineers working in South Waziristan for the China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Group Corporation in October,2004, and in the mobile telephone network in the Dir District of the NWFP in August 2008. There was also an attack by the Pakistani Taliban on some Chinese meat importers in Peshawar after the Lal Masjid raid, resulting in fatalities.

6. As a result, the Chinese interest in participating in development projects in Pakistan is presently confined to Pakistani Punjab,Sindh and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, including the Northern Areas. In Punjab, they have been participating in projects like the development of a special economic zone, construction of shopping malls etc. In Sindh, talks have been going on for their participation in the development of the Thar coal mines and the construction of thermal and fertiliser plants.

7. The Karakoram Highway was originally constructed with Chinese assistance with the participation of Chinese engineers. For the last 10 years it has been in a bad state of repairs due to poor maintenance by Pakistani engineers.During the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister ( 1993 to 1996) she sought Chinese assistance for the repair and upgradation of the Highway. The Chinese agreed to it. The proposal was that the Chinese would upgrade it on their side and the Pakistanis on their side with Chinese technical assistance. The upgradation work has been going on. It has been reported that while the work on the Chinese side has been completed ahead of schedue, it has been much behind schedule on the Pakistani side. It is not known whether Chinese engineers are participating on the Pakistani side and, if so, how many of them.

8.During his visit to Hang Zhou in the Zhejiang province and Guangzhou in the Guangdong province from August 21 to 24,2009, President Asif Ali Zardari, who met the local authorities and investors, sought Chinese participation in the development of hydel, thermal and solar energy projects, irrigation and fisheries and mobile telephone networks and in creating facilities for higher technical education, including the setting-up of a telecommunications university and research complex.Among the concrete results from his visit were:

The signing of a a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote cooperation in river fisheries and related technologies by representatives of the Indus River Fresh Water Fisheries Research Institute and the Pearl River Fishery Research Institute of Guangzhou.
The signing of an MOU for the construction of a dam at Bunji in the Astore district of the Northern Areas by officials of Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power and China’s Three Gorges Project Corporation. The Chairman Board of Investment Saleem Mandviwala and Li Yang’an of the Chinese corporation signed the MoU.The dam, one of the eight hydel projects short-listed for construction by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), will have a capacity of generating 7,000 megawatts of electricity.
9.Zardari attended a presentation on small and medium sized dams, water conservation and irrigation by the Zhejiang Design Institute of Water Conservancy and Hydroelectric Power.Li Yueming, the President of the institute, said they had carried out feasibility studies of a couple of medium-sized dams in the POK.Shakeel Durrani,Chairman of the WAPDA, who was present on the occasion, said that Chinese companies were already working on a number of hydel projects in Pakistan, including Neelum-Jhelum and Gomal Zam and the raising of the height of the Mangla dam in the POK. He said the institute would be invited to bid for the construction of 12 small dams.
10.Meanwhile, in a report carried by the "News" of August 18, 2009, before Zardari's visit to China, Kamran Khan, its journalist, alleged that without inviting open bidding from interested companies and investors, the Pakistan Steel has signed a non-transparent secret MoU with the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) for a $2.2 billion expansion programme to raise its current production capacity of 1.1 million tons to five million tons. According to him, contrary to relevant government rules and regulations as well as basic norms of transparency, the Pakistan Steel didn’t place any advertisement in the local and international press to seek the best international offers before entering into secret negotiations with the Chinese company, which was long seeking to clinch this deal. He said: "The most shocking element of this MoU, available with this correspondent, which will bind Pakistan with an additional foreign loan of $2.2 billion, is a clause that requires complete secrecy of this understanding. Clause 6.1 of this MoU states: “This MoU and any discussions related to it shall remain strictly confidential between the parties and no public announcement shall be made without written consent of both parties.”

11. Kamran Khan quoted a Pakistani official as saying: “This was not our requirement but the Chinese company asked for this secrecy clause and we agreed.”

12. There have been allegations that a businessman close to Zardari would be a major beneficiary of this expansion project. The Pakistan Steel has become one of the bones of contention between Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani. A day after the publication of the "News" report Gilani announced in the National Assembly that the Chairman of the Pakistan Steel Mills,Moin Aftab Shaikh had been sacked on corruption charges. “I had directed the Interior Ministry to investigate the affairs of the Pakistan Steel Mills and submit a report,” he said. Some Pakistani columnists interpreted Gilani's action as an affront to Zardari.

13. Since taking over as the President a year ago, Zardari has been periodically visiting Chinese provinces to study their economic development. During these visits, he does not go to Beijing. Most of his meetings are confined to Chinese businessmen and local Party and Government officials. A member of the Chinese Cabinet---generally the Foreign Minister--- goes to the province being visited by Zardari and makes a courtesy call on him. Befor going back to Pakistan, he speaks over phone to President Hu Jintao. He has so far made four such visits to China in the last one year, including the latest one. These frequent visits to meet Chinese investors and businessmen have given rise to allegations that he was going there to promote the business interests of his friends in Pakistan. (28-8-09)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

August 24, 2009

'India only gives moral support to Balochistan'


August 24, 2009 17:08 IST

Dr Jumma Khan Marri is a Baloch political leader and son of the legendary Baloch leader Mir Hazar Khan Marri who led the Baloch freedom struggle in the 1970s and 1980s. Dr Marri did his schooling in hiding in Sindh, Hyderabad and Karachi at the height of the military operation in Balochistan. His family was on top of the list of most wanted people by the Pakistani military and the Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence.

During this time many Balochs were forced to migrate to Afghanistan. Dr Marri also migrated and completed his schooling at the K V K Indian central school in Kabul. He went to Moscow [ Images ] in the then Soviet Union in 1986 along with many other Baloch students for his higher education; he acquired his MD in 1994 at the Russian State Medical University, and subsequently got his Ph D in immunology and allergies at the same university in 1998.

He returned from Russia [ Images ] in 1999 with the aim to help his divided but freedom-loving people. He had a vision to unite the Baloch people under one flag and so he formed the Baloch Unity Organisation. However after General Pervez Musharraf [ Images ] took power in a coup in October 1999 and began military operations in Balochistan, Dr Marri was forced again into exile in Moscow.

But he continues the fight and highlights the plight of his people through the media and his Web site

He articulates the struggle in an e-mail interview with's Sheela Bhatt.

What is your response to the mention of Balochistan in the India-Pakistan joint statement issued in Egypt [ Images ]?

Pakistan has always used the Baloch issue as a pretext to prove to the world that it is a victim of terrorism though in fact it exports terrorism. The Indian involvement in Balochistan has never been beyond moral support.

The joint statement cuts two ways -- on one hand it is good that the Baloch issue was internationalised on the other it can be detrimental to Baloch interest as Pakistan is using it as a stick to beat the Baloch freedom struggle by presenting that it being supported by India.

What are the real threats to Balochistan?

The real threats to Balochistan in concrete terms come from the States of Pakistan and Iran because they are physically occupying Balochistan. These States are repressive, intransigent and colonialist. It is for this reason that there is armed resistance in Balochistan.

Another tangible threat is the government-sponsored Talibanisation which is being implemented to oppose the nationalists.

There is danger that powers like the US and Russia, in pursuit of their national interests, may either help to crush or if it suits them may promote the national struggle and attempt to influence it.

Balochistan also faces a credible threat from ultra-nationalists in Afghanistan who dream of a 'Greater Afghanistan' and eye a large portion of Balochistan territory on flimsy historical evidence.

The greatest threat to Balochistan is, however, internal and that is the disunity among the Baloch themselves.

Are you worried about the Talibanisation of some areas of Balochistan? How is your party engaged in thwarting it?

This is very serious matter which concerns not only Balochistan but the entire world community. Your asking this question is proof of that concern.

In that regard I quote Sanaullah Baloch who disclosed that the supporters of the Taliban [ Images ] have captured land worth Rs 2 billion in the eastern and western parts of Quetta with the covert support of the 'establishment' in order to undermine the Baloch nationalist movement and promote Talibanisation in Balochistan.

Sana Baloch believes that the Taliban and their supporters are consolidating their grip. Several parts of the Baluchistan's capital have become 'no-go areas' where the Taliban and their supporters have consolidated their position.

American officials believe that Taliban leaders are freely operating in and around Quetta and are actively involved in the unrest in southern Afghanistan.

The Baloch are secular people and do not take religion as an issue to fight for, we believe religion must be a personal matter between a believer and god. My organisation along with all other Baloch parties and organisations are doing whatever possible to counteract these jihadi fanatics.

What is your response to Pakistan's allegation that India is engaged in covert activity in Balochistan from its consulate in Kandahar?

These are old, baseless allegations. The consulate is well inside Afghan territory and far away from the hot spots in Balochistan.

To the best of my knowledge the consulate in Kandahar has nothing to do with the resentment and resistance that the Pakistani State faces in Balochistan.

Moreover, the borders are controlled by the Pakistani forces and if in fact help is coming through than it is their ineptitude which is to blame.

Don't you think any kind of support from India will also affect India's relations with Iran?

Well, first let that long-awaited support come than we can assess the negative relations. If India decides to help the Baloch freedom struggle it will certainly be resented by Iran. When you do a good deed it at times irks quite a few and that shouldn't become a reason for not doing a good deed.

What is the human development index of Baluchistan society? Please give us some figures.

To present the grim reality of economic deprivation and poverty I quote experts who have intimate knowledge of the conditions there. Economist Dr Kaiser Bengali says, 'An overview of the development scene in Balochistan is discomforting and the extent of relative deprivation in the province is appalling. Eighteen out of the 20 most infrastructure-deprived districts in Pakistan are in Balochistan.'

'The percentage of districts that are classified as high deprivation stands as follows: 29 per cent in Punjab [ Images ], 50 per cent in Sindh, 62 per cent in the NWFP, and 92 per cent in Balochistan.'

'If Quetta and Ziarat are excluded, all of Balochistan falls into the high deprivation category. And Quetta's ranking would fall if the cantonment is excluded from the analysis.'

'The percentage of population living in a high degree of deprivation stands at 25 per cent in Punjab, 23 per cent in urban Sindh, 49 per cent in rural Sindh, 51 per cent in the NWFP, and 88 per cent in Balochistan.'

'Measured in terms of poverty, the percentage of population living below the poverty line stands at 26 per cent in Punjab, 38 per cent in rural Sindh, 27 per cent in urban Sindh, 29 per cent in the NWFP, and 48 per cent in Balochistan.'

Only 20 per cent of its people have access to safe drinking water compared to 86 per cent in the rest of Pakistan. Village electrification is only 25 per cent compared to 75 per cent in the rest of the country. The situation of basic amenities and access to education is also far below the ratio of other provinces.

Over 50 per cent its population subsists below the poverty line.

A horrific picture emerges if one surveys the maternal mortality rate which is 650 per 100,000 births in Balochistan while it is 281in Karachi. This is double the national average. Infant mortality in Balochistan is 158 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Even the Democratic Republic of Congo's average of 126 is lower while Pakistan's national average of 70 is less than half.

The figures in education are equally depressing, over three-fourths of women and two-thirds of population above ten are illiterate.

The conditions in affected Marri-Bugti areas and among the Internally Displaced Persons are much worse. Take the example of Bugti area. Though gas was discovered in Sui in 1951 and meets approximately 45 per cent of the country's total gas production and is worth Rs 85 billion annually what Dera Bugti receives in return for the wealth it generates is evident from the UNDP Human Development Report 2003, which ranked Dera Bugti last among the 91 districts of the country on the Human Development Index.

This eye-opening report reveals that among the top 31 districts on the HDI only three belonged to Balochistan whereas the province shared 12 among the lowest 30 districts on the HDI.

What is the present political situation within Balochistan?

The present situation was perspicaciously summed up in an interview to a television channel, ironically by the former Balochistan inspector general Asif Nawaz Warraich. He said, 'There is political insurgency in the province'.

This widespread and protracted upheaval, political insurgency, cannot be brushed aside as 'foreign inspired'. It mirrors the intensity and scale of the resentment and desperation felt by the people at the existing state of affairs and underlines their wish for a quick radical change.

The situation in Balochistan has deteriorated rapidly since the brutal murders of Baloch National Movement chairman Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Muneer Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch of the Baloch Republican Party in Turbat.

Media reports indicate that resentment has reached an unprecedented level and on May 9 Baloch separatists ransacked an English-medium private school in Quetta for performing the national anthem and hoisting the national flag.

A teacher was beaten up and the school administration warned that they would not hesitate to kill students and teachers if this practice is not stopped.

In April, Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Ali Magsi lamented that, 'Although I am a representative of the centre I was never taken into confidence by Islamabad [ Images ] on the Balochistan issue'. Former Balochistan chief minister Jam Yusuf's gripe that the discretionary funds of the Punjab CM were much higher than Balochistan's development budget proves the point.

Chief Minister Nawab Raisani recently proposed that all the federating units should be given provincial autonomy on the basis of a 1940 resolution and they should have control on their natural and other resources.

Balochistan Assembly Speaker Aslam Bhootani said in an interview that 'the trust deficit between the Baloch leadership and Islamabad was a major impediment to resolving the Balochistan issue'. He also said 'there was a perception in Balochistan that the Frontier Corps was running a parallel government in the province'.

If the speaker says that there is perception that the Frontier Corps is running a parallel government then the problem is acute.

The attitudes and resolve have been hardened and strengthened by the continuous and arrogant disregard of the Balochs's right over their political future and resources.

All the coalition parties in the provincial government want a piece from the pie. They diligently rubber-stamp all directives of the centre to avoid endangering their lucrative perks and businesses.

Regrettably, the cabinets and assemblies of the past have also been equally ineffective and docile. They have neither solved the issue of 'missing persons' nor put an end to military operations; target killings of Baloch leaders as in Turbat and 'forced disappearances' continue.

Their failures have disillusioned the people entirely who are also rapidly losing faith in the political process.

How can the people of India help you when they are tackling the issue of Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ]?

India needs to solve the Kashmir issue sooner rather than later because not all those opposing India in Kashmir are Pakistani agents. There have been mistakes which need to be recognised and rectified.

Helping the Baloch people cannot and should not be hampered by the issue of Jammu and Kashmir because Indian resources are neither few nor small and the help can be moral, political and financial.

Physical involvement is not only improbable, but would not be welcomed by the Baloch people.

August 23, 2009

Stop This Menonhunt :The tirade against the ex-foreign secretary is uncalled for

Arundhati Ghose

One of the fashionable phrases currently in use to address the complexities of international relations is `thinking out of the box'; few, though, appear to be ready to accept `acting out of the box'. Reactions to change tend to be sharp; even for this commentator, the joint statement issued at Sharm el-Sheikh initially came as a jolt. However, a closer perusal of the document, its careful drafting, and later, the statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament, clarified much of the text and the context. It was clear that much was left unsaid, as is normal in sensitive international negotiations, leaving it to critics and analysts to speculate on the basis of their particular political bent.

The `controversy', unfortunately, degenerated into personal attacks, on occasion amounting to charges of treasonous or extraordinarily stupid behaviour, simplemindedness or sheer incompetence on the part of those in charge of our foreign policy—from the PM to external affairs minister S.M. Krishna to foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon, who retired last month. While one has little knowledge of the capabilities of the new foreign minister, one can hardly classify the other two `accused' as either `treasonous' or `stupid'. Manmohan and Menon have proved themselves persons of outstanding intelligence and determination, and as possessed of an unerring sense of the shifting nuances of international relations, which has stood the country in good stead in parlous times—especially in our troubled neighbourhood.

The prime minister is a political being and has a forum to defend himself. Menon, on the other hand, was bound by the discipline of his office, and even when egregious interpretations were made of the most innocuous of statements, clarifications could only be given in private. What is it that has raised the hackles of those opposed not only to the statement, but also to the government? Umbrage has been taken to his reported statement that "while the drafting (of the joint statement) could be criticised, the substance could not". Is that an admission of bad drafting?

Of the two issues in the joint statement that have drawn the most attention, the inclusion of a reference to Balochistan has perhaps left the critics frothing at the mouth. Why, the criticism goes, did Menon not speak out and advise Manmohan that such a reference would not be acceptable to domestic public opinion? Or would jeopardise any future negotiations with Pakistan? Or that India should not be seen to be `conceding' anything to Pakistan? After all, it is said, past foreign secretaries have made their reputations in `speaking out' against the follies of the political leadership.

Firstly, this commentator is not aware that Menon did not raise some or all of these objections with his political masters. Many of us, formerly of the Indian Foreign Service, are aware of his calibre and can therefore surmise there must have been a valid reason for the inclusion of the Pakistani PM's concern in the joint statement. Neither Menon nor Manmohan are pushovers, as seems to be implied.

Secondly, one can think of several reasons why the inclusion of Balochistan at this point might, in fact, strengthen India's negotiating position. It will be recalled that some years ago, when the Pakistani army killed Baloch leader Sardar Bugti, India had formally issued a statement deploring the incident. It provoked Pakistan to react furiously, demanding that India desist from interfering in its internal affairs. Today, they appear to be asking India to comment on developments in Balochistan—on the activities of the Quetta shoora, the haven it offers to the Al Qaeda-Taliban leadership, the human rights violations against Baloch civilians, and so on. Pakistan has been at pains to reassure India that the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline will be secure through the territory of Balochistan. They now accept that they are facing threats there similar to the ones `in other areas', presumably, Swat and Waziristan, where they are fighting a civil war.

One could speculate further: India now has the option to internationalise the struggle for self-determination of the Baloch people, should it wish to—in the United Nations and other international forums. Perhaps the Pakistani prime minister needed to show his domestic (read military) audience that he had managed to raise the issue of Indian interference with the Indian prime minister—though the drafting wouldn't have satisfied their hawks.

As I have said earlier, in international diplomacy, there is much that cannot be made public while the process is still on. Meanwhile, the tendency to rip apart the reputation of a fine officer like Menon can only be deplored.

(The author is a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, Geneva.)

Fighting the Taliban: Odds stacked against the Pakistan Army

by Gurmeet Kanwal

Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of South Waziristan, has been killed by a US missile launched from an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) and a bitter succession war has broken out in the TTP.

Pakistan's north-west is now so deeply embroiled in insurgency that, for a change, no one has made even a token statement of disapproval against yet another violation of Pakistan's sovereignty by US forces deployed in Afghanistan. Perhaps the government and the Pakistan army are grateful to the US for helping them to get rid of an iconic symbol of defiance.

After the partially successful Operation Rah-e-Rast (the Right Path) in Buner-Swat Valley and the long-drawn Operation Mizan in South Waziristan, which has failed to meet its objectives so far, it has clearly emerged that the Pakistan army is finding it difficult to effectively subdue the Taliban, leave aside rooting them out.

Also, some elements in its higher echelons are not seriously inclined to do so as they see in this fight against the Pushtuns portents of an impending mutiny. The army comprises over 20 per cent Pushtuns and they are bound to be disenchanted if it kills their fellow Pushtuns in large numbers.

The army created the original Afghan Taliban and considers it a strategic asset. Hence, the army is still following the duplicitous policy of running with the (Afghan) Taliban hare and hunting (the Pakistan Taliban) with the US hounds. Inevitably, it is failing in both endeavours and has antagonised both the protagonists. On April 22, 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Pakistan of "abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists."

Insurgency in the NWFP and FATA is proving difficult for the Pakistan army to handle primarily because its tactics, techniques and procedures are more suited to conventional conflict. Its policy of placing the Frontier Corps, a border guarding force, in the vanguard while the regular army provides support and trains and equips itself for surgical counter-insurgency interventions has been unsuccessful and casualties have been mounting.

The use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships for air-to-ground strikes and heavy artillery bombardments to attack terrorist hideouts is proving to be completely counter-productive and is rapidly alienating the tribal people. It is also compelling people to leave their homes. Unless it engages in close combat with the Taliban and systematically destroys armed resistance, the Pakistan army will be unable to gain control over and hold the areas that it has lost to them.

Approximately 1,00,000 army troops are now deployed for counter-insurgency operations. The Peshawar-based 11 Corps, comprising 7 and 9 Infantry Divisions, is responsible for counter-insurgency operations in the NWFP. It is stretched thin on ground whereas the Taliban are well prepared to launch high-profile hit-and-run attacks and melt away into the mountainous terrain.

The Okara-based 14 Infantry Division is deployed in the area Bannu-Mir Ali-Dera Ismail Khan in South Waziristan (Operation Mizan) since early-2007. It is finding it difficult to come to grips with the situation as the TTP has the initiative on its home turf.

Besides 14 Infantry Division, a large number of troops from the corps and divisions which are traditionally responsible for operations on the eastern front with India were inducted into the area of Buner and Swat Valley for Operation Rah-e-Rast.

According to the usually well informed Pakistan analyst Brian Cloughley, who is occasionally briefed by the Pakistan Army, these included "two brigades of the Mangla-based 19 Infantry Division (10 Corps)… two brigades of the Gujranwala-based 37 Infantry Division (1 Corps), two brigades of 23 Infantry Division (10 corps) under the command of HQ 19 Infantry Division and the Sialkot-based 54 Independent infantry Brigade (30 Corps). Two integral armoured units and two or three artillery regiments were also deployed… units of 11 Corps took positions in Lower Dir, Buner and along the Sawt Valley to the south of Mingora securing ground for the formations from the east…" (`Swat Team', Jane's Intelligence Review, August 2009).

The operation was launched with 20,000 troops backed by massive air force and artillery support. While many militants were killed – the army claims that it killed 1,592 militants, many others fled the area to live to fight another day despite a tight cordon. The extremist elements are bound to return when the army moves out of the area. The operation resulted in a mass exodus of people from Dir, Swat, Malakand and Buner, the largest internal displacement of population since the great exodus of 1947.

Over two million refugees streamed into Peshawar and other towns in the NWFP, presenting a complex humanitarian challenge for a weak and financially insecure government and for the international relief agencies. The army is now in the process of engaging the TTP in South Waziristan in Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Road to Deliverance).

Brian Cloughley has estimated that up to five brigades have been deployed for this operation that is expected to last much longer than the Buner-Swat Valley operation. The TTP is fighting back with ferocity and is likely to further escalate its hit-and-run raids, ambushes and IED attacks after the death of its leader Baitullah Mehsud. Though the army might wish to launch surgical strikes against suspected hideouts and disengage quickly so as not to alienate the tribal population, it will be unable to do so.

The Pakistan army lacks counter-insurgency weaponry and equipment. Despite uncontrollable internal instability, the army has been investing in upgrading its war fighting capability for conventional war with India – at worst a distant threat. The army has also not yet succeeded in acquiring basic infantry skills that are necessary for dealing with internal security challenges. At a conservative estimate, it will take at least another two to three years to upgrade its capabilities to the level necessary to face the new challenges provided it begins in earnest immediately and makes a determined effort to succeed.

The writer is Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi

Home and the World~Does India's Foreign Policy Serve The National Interest?

MG Devasahayam

During the heated parliamentary debate on the Prime Minister's foreign policy sellout to Pakistan at Sharm el-Sheikh, allegedly under US influence, two questions were flying ~ does India have a foreign policy and if so, is it in the national interest?
As the Treasury benches and the greenhorn external affairs minister, SM Krishna, ran for cover, the Congress veteran and former foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, gave a resounding response: "Yes. India has a foreign policy and we have never deviated from its fundamentals". The second question was side-stepped, obviously because the answer is ~ `It is not'.

Let us first look at India's self-sacrificing relationship with the United States of America, the world's only superpower. It is genuflection, prostration and crawling all the way. It all started with the LPG ~ Liberalisation, Privatisation, Globalisation ~ era since the early nineties when the reform agenda was drafted and crafted in the USA and pursued in India. Part of that agenda happened to succeed, but in large part it either failed or did not take off.
In the failed category was the move to restructure, unbundle and privatise the State Electricity Boards, the main objective being that American power utilities would take them over. Propelled by the `failed reformers', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh plunged into `nuclear renaissance' and risked his government to sign the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, to rescue the giant US companies starved of `nuclear power business'.

Hillary's visit

THE US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who visited India recently, rubbed it in and left with $30 billion (Rs.1,50,000 crore) worth of business to revive the sagging defence and nuclear industries in the US. In return she brought non-proliferation, climate change and Pakistan to the table, making it clear through diplomatic smiles that India has to kowtow to American interests in all these segments. India has to be content with such flattery as a perceived `global-power' image, one that warms the cockles of free-wheeling millionaires and media-anchors!

As regards the Doha trade talks, the new Commerce Minister had already promised to play the American tune. This is reflected in the statement of the US Assistant Secretary on South and Central Asia, Robert O. Blake, in Washington: "There is a dynamic new trade minister in India by the name of Anand Sharma who knows the United States well. And he has already had a visit here to meet Ron Kirk (US Trade Representative). And he expressed India's intention to work with the United States to try to, you know, move to a final phase of negotiations on Doha."

India is now expected to dilute its position on the "special safeguard mechanism" and the right of developing countries to raise tariffs in the event of a large or sudden increase in imports threatening the domestic producers, particularly farmers. This could further ruin India's languishing agriculture.

With the National Security Adviser, MK Narayanan, and the now retired Foreign Secretary, Shivshankar Menon, by his side, the Prime Minister hastened to clear agreements despite opposition from within the establishment. The End-Use Monitoring Agreement was a major gain for the US, which has been insisting on this for the past three years. It was signed by India despite strong protests from the military, which went on record before Clinton's visit to try and stop the agreement that it has described as intrusive. The agreement allows the US to physically inspect the use of the equipment it has supplied to India, a concession that can adversely affect the security and sovereignty of this country.

Though the Prime Minister was keen to sign the Nuclear Liability Convention that gives immunity to US companies setting up nuclear power plants in India against any accident or Bhopal-type disaster, he could not do so due to strong lobbying by activists in and outside Parliament. Already facing flak on the joint statement with Pakistan, the Prime Minister was not particularly keen to open another front at this stage, and has put it off for another day.

Once this agreement is signed, as the US expects it to be, $10 billion will go into the US exchequer to revive power giants, Westinghouse and GE, who have not built a nuclear reactor in 30 years. Clinton confirmed the business interests at a press interaction: "I am pleased that Prime Minister Singh told me that sites for two nuclear parks for US companies have been approved by the government. These parks will advance the aims of the US-India civil nuclear agreement, facilitate billions of dollars in US reactor exports, and create jobs in both countries as well as generate much needed energy. We hope that India will be able to approve the liability legislation that will enable our US companies to seize these important opportunities."

At the end of Mrs Clinton's visit, "strategic cooperation" was extended to cover non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, military ventures, energy, climate change, education, development, economics, trade, agriculture, science and technology, health, innovation and women's empowerment. She described so wide a canvas as the "five-pillar" approach. Confirmation of America as the first master is complete! Who is the second master? Unobtrusively and seemingly in cohort with a Left-leaning cabal, India's security-cum-foreign policy establishment has been pushing for a subservient position vis-à-vis China. Already with unfriendly or/and hostile countries ~ Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar ~ around, India has lost its hold over Sri Lanka, handing it over to Chinese hegemony. Our `encirclement' by China-friendly countries seems to be complete Lankan Tamils

India conducted its fight-to-the-finish against Sri Lankan Tamils with Mahinda Rajapakse using Chinese weapons. India acted as China's surrogate in the Security Council and the UN Human Rights Commission to defend, protect and uphold Sri Lanka's war crimes and crimes against humanity. India worked with China for a $ 2.6 billion IMF bailout loan to Sri Lanka to cover these expenses. India has endorsed Chinese-type rule of oppression, repression, torture and concentration camps in Sri Lanka.

The premonition of Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, that "China will launch an attack on India before 2012 and there are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century" has been in the making for the last few years. By that time Sri Lanka would be fully prepared with an armed force of 300,000 (the 8th largest in the world), near-fully trained and equipped by China and Pakistan, forcing India to open a massive land-sea front in the south, which till now has been peaceful. It is thus evident that India's foreign policy on Sri Lanka has been palpably against the national interest and security.

This dangerous fallout does not find place in India's security debate which is over-obsessed with Pakistan, Kashmir, Balochistan and Arunachal Pradesh. Neither is the bartering away of India's leverage over Sri Lanka for the benefit of China. The question is ~ are India's rulers inching towards China as the second master?

India conscious of Chinese presence in Indian Ocean region

PTI | New Delhi

India is conscious of the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region and is taking "adequate measures" to make sure that its neighbourhood is not threatened, Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju on Thursday said.

"China being a regional power will make its moves and if we sense a threat to our internal security we will do some counter measures," he told reporters here on the sidelines of homeland security seminar.

However, "we need to give China the benefit of doubt that they are also in their quest to safeguard their sea lanes of communication because they have their energy resources passing through this (Indian Ocean).

"They are taking some steps. We have to make sure that that it is not intrusive and they will not come into our space. Towards that end we are conscious of what China is doing and we are making adequate measures to make sure that our neighbourhood is not threatened," Raju said.

On Beijing acquiring anti-satellite capabilities for space-age warfare, he said India was against militarisation of space.

But space assets would have to be utilised in warfare in the years to come and India was also preparing itself for taking adequate counter measures to this Chinese capability, he said. "The frontier of space, which includes utilisation of satellites, will continue to be a growing area of warfare. India has stated in the past that it is against militarisation of space. But space assets have to be utilised in warfare in the years to come and we are also preparing for it to take adequate counter measures," Raju said.

He also pointed out to the growing trade between the two Asian giants and said China would not be a problem because of economic factors.

"The emphasis and focus is on (bilateral) trade, which is increasing at a rapid rate. Although we share a large border, we have not had any skirmishes. So I do not see any reason why they should be a problem on that front. As a regional power, they will take steps to increase their military prowess and we will do in our case," he said.

On the nearly USD 140-million US military aid to Pakistan, with which Islamabad may acquire Predator drones used by NATO forces in Afghanistan against Taliban, Raju said when technology was being used for countering Taliban forces, there was a chance it may fall into wrong hands. "I am sure they will take adequate steps to prevent
this," he added.

The minister also warned about the danger of nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons falling into the hands of terrorists who have become more sophisticated and complex.

"In the future, there is the potential of terrorists acquiring advanced technology including NBC weapons and communication equipment. We may even see insurgents armed with nuclear devices or biological and chemical weapons, capable of massive destruction in localised areas.

After the horrific attacks on Mumbai last November, we have taken up the challenge to modernise and upgrade our security forces in a comprehensive manner. India should take precaution against the NBC threats," Raju said.

"We have to be prepared for any eventuality and NBC warfare is something for which we are also preparing for," he said.

He said the terrorists' objectives were becoming more ambitious with the intention of inflicting maximum damage. "Therefore, the task ahead is formidable."

The Minister said the nation faced threats to its internal security from abroad, while confronting militants in 160 districts across eastern and southern parts of the country.

He said paramilitary forces were being further strengthened and modernised.

China's secretive military launches Web site

2009-08-20 19:30:00

China's Defense Ministry launched its first official Web site Thursday, part of an effort by the normally secretive military to be more transparent.

The launch of the site — including an English version — comes as the U.S. Army's top general visits Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterparts. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey was to visit the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army on Thursday and meet PLA Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde.

A notice on the Web site said it is "designed to let the outside world have a better perception of China's national defense policy."

"Help enhance foreign exchanges and cooperation, (and) display before the world the fine image of the PLA as a mighty, civilized and peaceful force," it said.

The site will also help China's drive to modernize its military, it said.

China has long been tightlipped about its military strength and capacity, drawing criticism from other countries wary of the Asian giant's growing power and skyrocketing military spending. Beijing says it is modernizing its military, but for purely defensive purposes.

But in recent years, China has been increasing its international military ties. Earlier this year, Chinese warships were sent to patrol waters off Somalia as part of the international effort against piracy.

Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said earlier this month the army would develop peacefully and increase cooperation with foreign armed forces to fulfill its international obligations.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said last month the military planned to establish more information offices nationwide and hold more news conferences.

The Web site includes sections on China's defense policies and laws and news about military exercises, peacekeeping roles and international military exchanges.

A picture of President Hu Jintao, who is also chairman of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission, which controls the military, is prominent on the home page. Pictures and information on weapons and equipment are also displayed.

China's military spending has jumped by double-digit percentages for nearly two decades. This year, Beijing announced a 14.9 percent rise in military spending to 480.68 billion yuan ($70.27 billion), though it was a smaller increase than previous years.

That spending puts it on par with Japan, Russia and Britain, but it is still dwarfed by the U.S., which spends nearly 10 times as much.

China's growing military power has also created other image problems, with accusations in numerous countries that Chinese hackers have breached government and military networks.

Officials in the U.S., Britain and Germany have accused Chinese hackers backed by the country's military of intruding into their government and defense computer networks.

Chinese government officials have denied accusations of computer espionage, saying they were meant to feed anxiety over Beijing's growing influence.

Maintaining a Defense Ministry Web site could also open it up as a target from cyber attackers. One large cyber offensive on U.S. and South Korean government agencies last month appeared to target their public Web sites, rather than trying to get at internal files.

Kargil exposed Pak untrustworthiness

By M.V. Kamath

It is just over ten years since India won the Kargil War and threw out the last of the Pakistani intruders from the mountain tops, causing severe losses to the degenerate Pakistani forces. To the last, Pakistan refused to acknowledge its blatant guilt. Those Pakistani intruders who were a mix of soldiers from III, IV, V, VI and XII battalions of Pakistan's Northern Light Infantry (NLI), members of Pakistan's Special Service Group and several jihadi militants had sneaked into the posts temporarily vacated by Indian soldiers because of weather conditions. That dastardly and mean act was an open violation of an Indo-Pak understanding.

Pakistan's strategy was to occupy dominating positions at heights between the Line of Control and the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, 1-A. The broader aim was to isolate the Ladakh region from the rest of India and alter the status of LoC for strategic gains. But for the fact that a cowherd, Tashi Namgyal, from the village Garkon, close to the LoC, spotted six armed intruders making bunkers on the Indian side and conveyed the information to the Indian Army, Pakistan would have possibly started to dictate terms to India. The man who planned it all was General Musharraf, as untrustworthy a man as one can imagine, who had even refused to greet then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the latter made his famous trip to Lahore to hold talks with then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief.

The heroism shown by Indian officers and men in Kargil has now become part of military legend but such was the untrustworthiness of Musharraf that he wouldn't even admit that it was the Pakistani Armed Forces who betrayed India's trust and wouldn't even recognise those Pakistanis killed in battle. The Indian Forces had to undertake the task of burying the Pakistani dead-a fact that not only Musharraf himself but all of Pakistan must be ashamed of. Kargil was the most stupid thing that Musharraf attempted. According to Khaled Ahmed, a senior editor with the liberal English language Daily Times and the newsweekly Friday Times, Kargil was one of the reasons for Musharraf's downfall. As he put it: "Not even a stupid man would go to Kargil and try to defeat India there", but like Ayub Khan, Musharraf must have felt that a Pakistani soldier could beat his Indian counterpart any time. Even if India showed that where valour and courage are concerned no one could beat an Indian jawan, Musharraf was not one to listen. It cost him his job.

The point to remember is that the Pakistan Army cannot be trusted and for Dr Manmohan Singh to say that we should trust Pakistan and verify whether promises are kept is to be very naive. There is no Pakistan. There is only the Pakistan Army. In his book on Musharraf, Murtaza Razvi writes about the Army's obsession with India quoting Aftab Gul, a well-known lawyer. Gul is quoted as saying: "The only identity we have is in relation to India. We are what they are not. We believe that the Red Fort will one day be ours... Many an Indian I know is happy that we opted out in 1947; imagine what trouble we would be causing India if we were part of it. This wound will continue to fester. Somebody will have to take a quantum leap". Who can this "somebody' be? Zardari? Gilani? Can they take on the Army? Whom is Dr Manmohan Singh fooling-unless it be himself? And how can the "festering wound" be cured? Through trust? Consider this: The media reported from Islamabad that days before Dr Singh and Mr Gilani met in Egypt, the head of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt. Gen Shuja Pasha floated a suggestion that India deal not just with Pakistan's civilian government but also directly with its Army and Intelligence Service. Some impertinence, that.

According to the media "Gen. Pasha came clean in stating that the ISI and the Pakistani Army were involved in framing Pakistan's India policy" when he met three leading Defence Advisors from India. For Dr Manmohan Singh to hold composite dialogues with Zardari or Gilani, howsoever nobly itemised, would, in the circumstances, be sheer waste of time. The Pakistan Army's aim, it would seem, ridiculous though it may sound, is capturing the Red Fort! Obviously it is led by demented generals whose only mantra is Hate India. We are told that there have, in the past, been four successful rounds of composite dialogues and the fifth round was under way when the Mumbai attacks took place. Were those attacks planned by the ISI deliberately to derail further dialogues? And what were the successes?

An agreement for trucks from one side to cross the border upto a designated point on the other side an increase in frequency of the Delhi-Lahore bus service; an MoU between the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan; completion of Joint Survey of Sir Creek and adjoining areas; an agreement on Consular access; implementation of CBMs etc. Good as far as they go but would the Pakistan Army let them be implemented? Can Dr Singh tell? Can any dialogue succeed without the approval of the ISI? From what Gen Pasha said, no dialogue can possibly succeed without the ISI's imprint. And who can force the ISI to behave? None, except, perhaps, the US. Will it pitch in?

The fact is that unless the Pakistan Army is defanged, no dialogue can possibly succeed. The terrorist attacks on Mumbai make that pretty clear. But what is heartwarming news to come out of Pakistan in recent times is the declaration of Pakistan's Supreme Court of a historic judgment on July 31, 2009. It declared that Musharraf's November 3, 2007 Emergency and the subsequent dismissal of Judges was unconstitutional and illegal. That sounds as if the judiciary is finally asserting itself. Musharraf deserves to be tried and suitably punished so that a clear message is sent to the Armed Forces and the ISI of the limitation to their powers. Is the Pakistan Supreme Court judgment a sign of things to come? One learns that when the judgment was pronounced, the courtroom erupted with cries of Allah-o-Akbar and `Hang Musharraf'.

One can only hope that those cries are fore-runners of the assertion of authority by a civilian government. Pakistan's worst enemy is tits own untamed Army once powerfully backed by the United States. There are no signs yet that Washington has understood what grave damage it has done not just to the people of Pakistan but to all of South Asia. The day the Pakistan Army is sent back to its barracks will be the day for the start of the composite dialogues and the establishment of peace and prosperity in our long-suffering lands. Dr Manmohan Singh does not have to lose hope. What is called for is a little patience affordable for a country with a history of ten thousand years.

Balochistan: Iran fired over 50 rockets into Mashkail town, three women killed


Kharan: Iranian forces have fired over 50 rockets into the bordering town of Mashkail which killed three women and injured two other innocent civilians. District Nazim Mashkail Hajji Agha Khan said that five feet long rockets shells have “IRAN” written on them and these rockets have been fired between 2 am and 3:30 yesterday [22-08-2009]. He further said that 30 rockets shells have been recovered so far.

District officer Mashkail Mr Naseer Baloch said that a hospital and several houses have been hit by the Iranian fired rockets. Eyes witnesses said that rockets have been fired by the Iranian security forces as they have seen a convoy of 14 security vehicle going back toward Iran after the attack which killed innocent civilians and destroyed their houses.

Thousands of people took to streets after the vicious attack by the Iranian security forces on unarmed civilians in Mashkail. They demand an immediate inquiry to this inhuman attack and gross human rights violation.

On the other hand Pakistani and Iranian forces are carrying out a joint military offensive in the valley of Kullber, Thump, Mand and surrounding areas from last four days. The local people reported that the continues attack and shelling by both Pakistani and Iranian security forces have created an atmosphere of insecurity and tension in the above mentioned regions. Many people are besieged in their houses and are facing difficulty to continue their daily normal life.

News source: Daily

Please sign the petition to stop the ongoing joint military operation in Kullber Vally and surrounding areas [click on link to sign the petition]

An urgent Appeal to Baloch Nation and all other free born people [International Human Rights and media contacts]

We have received the following letter which explains the situation in the affected areas and the difficulties that people are faced with due to continues bombardment and shelling by the Pak-Iran security forces. The letter also points out that the International media is completely silent on the genocide of Baloch nation. We request the International media and International Human Right groups to take notice of the ongoing joint military operation on innocent Baloch civilians:









By B.Raman

1. Of all the jihadi terrorist organisations of Pakistan, there is one which has never been banned either by the Government of Pakistan or designated by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) or banned by the Governments of the European Union Countries or by the anti-terrorism sanctions committee of the UN Security Council.

2.Of all the jihadi terrorist organisations of Pakistan, there is one whose assets and bank accounts have never been sought to be frozen either by Pakistan or by the US or by the EU or by the UNSC Committee.

3.Of all the jihadi terrorist leaders of Pakistan, there is one who has not been sought to be declared as a terrorist by the anti-terrorism sanctions committee of the UNSC because this subject was not taken up by the US.

4. Which is that terrorist organisation and who is that terrorist leader? You find the answers to those questions and you will be able to make a fairly reasonable guess as to how the US managed to direct a Drone strike at the house of the father of the second wife of Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan , in South Waziristan on August 5,2009, in which Baitullah was reported to have been killed.

5. I have written repeatedly and extensively about this organisation and its leader. I am not going to say anything more.

6. It is for you to find the answers.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )